Module #1: Bridge Building – Thursday February 9, 2012
For the first week, the student teachers brought gumdrops to I.S. 143. But this was no snack-time, this was engineering. The students learned all about the different types of bridges and the different geometric shapes they utilize for stability. Finally, after learning about truss bridges, and the dominant shape, the triangle, the students had the opportunity to make their own bridges out of gumdrops and toothpicks, and an engineering competition was held at the end of class. The bridges were tested to see how much weight they could hold, but the strongest bridge wasn’t necessarily the winner. The students were also judged on the efficiency of their construction, so the ideal bridge was the one which held the most weight per the fewest number of gumdrops used. With a number of different and creative designs, all using the idea that triangles are stronger than squares, the students had fun and learned one of the most important lessons of structural engineering.
Module #2: Egg Drop – Thursday February 16, 2012
This START Science module focused on safety systems in cars, and allowed students to design and implement them in a classic egg drop. We analyzed cars’ passenger protection devices – from cutting-edge automatic brakes before the crash to traditional crumple zones, seat belts, and airbags during the crash – and explained the physics behind each of these life-saving inventions. The students learned methods to reduce energy in a collision, force on a passenger, and pressure on his or her body. These concepts were then put into practice in designing and constructing capsules to protect an egg dropped from the ceiling. The students experimented with a variety of materials and features, including parachutes made of paper plates and protective cocoons made of bubble wrap and cotton balls. The students were enormously successful, as all of the groups’ devices stopped the eggs from shattering on impact as an unprotected egg would. They also learned key concepts in physics and the importance of modern safety features in cars.
Module #3: Egg Drop – Friday February 17, 2012